Tag Archives: NYC Livin

This isn’t real (Or the day I got to know a stranger’s diet too well)

Everyone who’s ever moved to NYC loves to tell newcomers that the first few months are the hardest. It gets easier, better after that. Just push through those initial few months. I guess a cliche is a cliche for a reason; this was exactly the case for me. The first couple of months were brutal- full of transition, a lack of balance, and absolutely no handle on how to run my own life. I can pinpoint the night when this all started to change..

After a stellar night out with a good friend from college, I boarded the train home  with a smile on my face, knitting in hand (yes, I knit on the subway.) Following me onto the train were two 18-22 year old boys, clearly hopped up on something. They sat across from me on the almost empty train, and we proceeded to do the one thing all New Yorkers are exceptionally good at: we completely ignored each other.

I sat in blissful exuberance, reliving my fabulous evening, and feeling my life fall into place. The sky was bluer (or would have been, if it wasn’t near to midnight), the birds were singing (or would have been, if it hadn’t been November), the conductor was skipping all stops in an effort to get me home in fifteen minutes flat (Ok…that’s a complete lie).

The boys across the aisle sat in blissful waves of semi-consciousness, munching their way through several bag of potato chips. I paid them no heed, and they were far too immersed in their snack to notice me.

About four stops from my own, I leaned down and put my knitting in my backpack. I leaned back in the seat, eyes closed, and thought to myself, “Wow. Things are really starting to look up. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this whole city-living thing. Maybe I really do like living here.”

As these pleasant and comforting thoughts settled into my consciousness, I felt a splash hit me. A continuous splash, spraying my clothing, shoes, and backpack. As I looked up, expecting to see the drugged-out boys messing around with a water bottle, another splash greeted me, hitting my hair and face. Through the flecks on my glasses, I saw one of the boys, calmly patting his friend on the back, as he proceeded to be violently sick. The boy’s hand was clamped over his own mouth, as though he thought this would cause his body to stop retching-if there’s nowhere for it to go, it’ll just not come at all. On the contrary, it came, and flew in every direction around his hand. Hence the spraying.

Now, I’m not one to swear in public. So,I was mildly surprised when I shouted, “Are you *$&^%^(&# kidding me?!” without so much as a moment of hesitation. This stirred something in the comforting friend, who proceeded to splutter, “I’m so sorry.” at me. He half-lifted his friend off the seat and onto the platform we had just arrived at. I sat, stunned, in a pool of vomit, watching as the young man continued to get sick all over the ground, and then get back into the subway car and continue throwing up.

When the train finally and mercifully pulled into my stop, I stood up stiffly, and shuffled off the subway with as much dignity as I could muster (so, not much. or none). I trudged home as quickly as possible, not meeting people’s gazes, and cursing that boy to the depths of hell, where a whole school of vomit-centered tortures would be waiting for him.

As I pulled open my apartment door, my roommate called cheerily to me in greeting, “Hey! How was your day?”

“I just got thrown up on.” I answered back in monotone, as I walked into the bathroom, sneakers, jacket and backpack still on, turned on the shower and proceeded to scrub every inch of me with dish soap and a sponge.

With the water pouring down my back, I thought to myself, “Please don’t take this as a sign, K. The timing of this means nothing. Nothing at all. It’s just a horrible, awful, freaking knee-slapper of a coincidence.”

Even as I sit here: happy, completely confident in my decision to move to NYC, and finally feeling like I have a home here, I gotta say…it’s hard to believe that when you’re pulling chunks of half-digested potato chip from your hair.

 

 

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O, Christmas Tree. O, Christmas Tree.

I was raised with the understanding that “Time to trim the Christmas tree!” started with putting said tree together. Our tree was stored in a giant tupperware bin, amidst an array of plush snowmen, Precious Moments nativity scenes, and shiny, red garland. Sure, we didn’t have the joy of picking out a new tree every year, but we did get to control which way the branches curved.

While I have no regrets as to my childhood of straightening out wire branches and attaching them to color coordinated slots on  a big ole pole, I have to admit that I was a little excited ecstatic about the prospect of getting a real tree this year for my apartment. My first real Christmas tree. The smell of pine, the crunch of needles loosed from the branches, the task of watering the tree…I couldn’t wait.

So, on the chosen night, my roommate and I headed out to find our tree. We took the train one stop to a grocery store that had been rumored to have great trees. As we excitedly sifted through the selection, it became clear that not all rumors are true. Trees with strange bald spots and already rotting stumps greeted us at every turn. Just as we were about to give up, we saw it: Standing, half tied up and pushed to the side. It stood a good 5-ft, had strangely bushy and awkwardly-faced branches, and looked like it would last til just past Christmas. Our tree. We nearly jumped in excitement (Okay, I nearly jumped in excitement. My roommate, who is a normal, well-adjusted member of society, just smiled ), paid, and happily began to carry it back to the train.

Which brings us to adventure number 1: Riding the subway with a 5-foot tree in tow.

Surprisingly this was not so much of a milestone as carrying said tree from the subway, up two blocks, down an avenue, and then hauling it up four flights of stairs. As we trudged, we half joked/half prayed-“Wouldn’t it be funny if one the four male friends we live across the street from passed us on the street right now, and then offered, out of the kindness of his heart, to carry our tree for us? Wouldn’t that be just lovely?”

…it would have been. But, after a full ten minutes of hoping, even as we climbed the stairs to our apartment, we victoriously carried the tree into our living room ourselves.

Next came the decorations. After standing up our tree, declaring it every euphemistic name we could think of for slightly awkward (Quirky! Cute! Unique!), we rushed out the door to go raid the various 99-cent stores in our neighborhood. We were met with the discovery that 99-cent stores close at 9 pm. (No, I am not kidding.) After coercing one of the shop owners to let us in, we picked out some lights, bobbles, and a classy light-up star for our tree-topper.

After a couple hours of cutting snowflakes, listening to Christmas music, and drinking hot toddies, our third roommate arrived home, and we haphazardly decorated our little tree. We stood there, practically vibrating from excitement, staring at what had to be the most beautifully-imperfect tree in existence.

The tree

The quirky little tree that marks my first real Christmas tree, and my first Christmas in my new apartment

Overcome with a need to share this with others, we texted our neighbors a brief “Come over”, with the hopes that their close proximity would mean that they would overlook the fact that it was midnight, and come look at our tree. Sure enough, two did. And with a shot of Jameson, several Santa hats, and Christmas carols underscoring the conversation, we laughed, joked, and celebrated around the tree- my first real Christmas tree.

Your Holiday Guide to NYC

Well, if I didn’t have a calendar, it wouldn’t take more than two minutes outside to make me very aware that it is the holiday season once again. From the light-strewn power lines to the Christmas trees being sold outside of the Rite-Aid near my subway stop, it’s taking over the streets of NYC. Now, this particular season happens to be my absolute favorite (original, I know). I love seeing my family, cannot wait to eat Christmas dinner (Thanksgiving was a week ago, so it’s totally fine that I’m already craving a huge feast…right?), and I’ve been obsessed with twinkle lights since I was old enough to stick pennies in an outlet. Living in the city, I have the unique privilege of being near a ridiculous amount of fun, free holiday activities. So, I thought I would share some with you, in the hopes that you will get to the city to enjoy a few yourself this holiday season.

K’s Guide to Christmas in New York:

Bryant Park Holiday Market1) Start your day off with a walk through the Union Square Holiday Market. Awesome little gifts, really great loose-leaf tea, and you can totally grab something freshly baked and delicious for breakfast. There’s also some of the best cider I have ever found hidden somewhere amidst the vendors.

pond_bryant_park2) Take your skates to Bryant Park next for the best place to skate in the city. It has the best view, hands down, and is free if you bring your own skates. Plus, if you go on a weekday before school is out, it’s hardly ever crowded.

imgres3) Head over to City Bakery and warm up with some of their famous hot chocolate. You must, i repeat, MUST get the marshmallow on top. It is literally a brick of heaven. Do it.

imgres-14) If it’s getting dark at this point, take a self-led window tour. Hit up all the must-sees (Bloomingdales, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Lord and Taylor, Macy’s), and scope out any other cool ones on the way. Make sure to watch the Sak’s light show while you’re passing by.

santaland-at-macy-s-20085) Well, now that you’re at Macy’s, check out Santaland! You are never too old to visit Santa. Plus it’s Christmas overload there-so you’ll be sure to get your entire year’s worth of Christmas lights, music, dancing bears in tutus, and candy cane statues.

imgres-26) Finally, end your adventure at Rockefeller Center. That tree is the best part of New York in December. It’s stunning, with more lights than you have ever seen. Get ready to push some tourists out of the way to get a picture. Worth it.

I really hope you get to experience any, if not all, of these things. It is really an incredible way to celebrate the best time of the year. And if it happens to snow while you’re here, well…catch a few.

The Battle to End All Battles (or just to wash my underwear)

A few weeks ago, I awoke to find a note on the kitchen table from my roommate. Hastily scrawled on a piece of scrap paper were the words that were to bring war to my cozy little apt. Ugly, unrelenting, all or nothing war: The washing machine tore my blanket to shreds. I think it’s broken.

Let me start with a little background. We moved into our fabulous new apt with the knowledge that we would no longer have to drag our unmentionables out into the cold, cruel streets of New York in order to clean them. We would never again have to drag bags of freshly-pressed clothes up four flights of stairs. No elevator? No problem! We were also blessed with a combo washer dryer (much like New Englanders are blessed with below-zero temperatures in the winter.) This one little box of a machine washes and dries your clothes. In the same compartment. No, really. It does. Or is supposed to.

I found it curious that when we signed the lease, the realtor said no fewer than 17 times, “The hookup is the management company’s responsibility, but the maintenance of the machine is yours.” Hm. Strange that this point was so important to make. But, mere weeks later, standing with a bucket of towels and a user’s manual I found online clutched in my hands, I realized that it wasn’t strange at all. It was genius.  Sauron, Darth Vader, fill-in-your-own-favorite-bad-guy-worthy genius.

About a week after finding that note, I broke into my “time to do laundry” underwear. You know the ones- the stuff you bury deep in the bottom of your sock drawer in the hopes that no one will ever find it. Faced with five of the unsexiest pieces of clothing ever known to man and the decision between going to a laundromat or calling a plumber, I made the most intelligent choice. The obvious one. Fix it myself.

 

I was pretty sure the blanket had clogged the machine. Why not run it once without clothes in it to unclog it? Brilliant idea! So simple! I can do that! I happily put a little detergent in, hit start, and sat down to enjoy a cup of tea. The calm before the storm. I went back into the bathroom and was met with the ominous sight of a water and suds filled window. Lovely. My roommates both at work, I was left to sort it out on my own. I had found a how-to manual on the maker’s website, and realized that no one had ever cleaned out the filter. It’s probably just clogged! I bet if I clean it, all of the water will drain immediately. (There are moments in your life that you look back on your decisions and imagine a world where time travel is possible. Not so you can change it. No. So you can go back to that moment and bitch-slap the hell out of your past self just to get even.) The filter was located at the bottom of the machine. I carefully began to unscrew it, and was stopped by a geyser of water hitting me in the face. Dripping with suds and half-dissolved pieces of blanket, I quickly closed the filter, and spent a good ten minutes staring at the machine, willing the water to evaporate. After this inexplicably did not work, I  began the arduous process I fondly like to call: holding-a-1-billion-lb-machine-at-a-forty-five-degree-angle-with-one-hand-while-scooping-sudsy,-blanket-filled-water-out-with-a-travel-coffee-mug-into-a-tupperware-container-and-getting-the-entire-bathroom-soaked-in-the-process. After thoroughly cleaning out every nook, cranny, and filter, I ran the machine again, confident in my plumbing skills. I was a powerful, resourceful, independent college graduate! I could do anything! I…shouldn’t have started the machine again. It quickly filled without even the slightest hint of draining. And so it went, and has gone, for about two weeks now. But will I call a plumber? No. I will fix this myself.

…that’s actually a lie. I’m most likely going to call a plumber. Especially after my roommates and I thought the tub was clogged, poured a whole bottle of Drano into it, and then realized that the bathtub drain switch was on. It just seems that, after that, a professional is probably a solid choice.

Bring it in, NY

I’ve been struck countless times over the past two months at how lonely a city of billions can be. Really, when you live in NYC, you are alone for a staggering amount of time. Walking to and from the subway, riding to work, doing prep work for auditions-I would say a good 60-70% of my time is spent on my own. There is a good deal of peace and happiness to be found in this amount of solitude, but it can also be cripplingly lonesome.

Which makes moments of real connection stand out. Hurricane Sandy swept through the city, devastating some parts while hardly touching others. My apartment was left unscathed, but I certainly felt the storm’s effects when my restaurant lost power for a week. Somehow, we stayed open, serving bottled beer and mixed drinks by candlelight. Of course, no food and a lack of customers meant that I was rendered useless; due to a lack of communication (thank you, lost phone), I found myself in the back of a cab on Halloween, headed into work. The restaurant’s windows were boarded up with plywood to protect against wind gusts. A rather sketchy-looking “Still Open!” was spray painted across one of the boards. Even I, who had worked there pre-Sandy and knew it wasn’t a serial killer’s hideout, did not want to go in. I pushed the door open, and let my jaw drop. Hundreds of tea lights glowed from every nook, cranny, and corner in the restaurant. A half dozen people sat at the bar, sipping on what must have been lukewarm beer. The lack of top 20’s hits usually booming from every speaker pressed the silence loudly against my eardrums. I walked into my very own Wonderland, complete with an Alice serving drinks behind the bar (it was Halloween, after all). My fellow server, the overly affectionate guy, came bustling over to me, handed me a box of matches, and explained that he was bored out of his mind and replacing used-up candles to stay busy. Steam rose from his lips as he spoke, and I realized we didn’t have heat. 

As I walked around the restaurant, lighting candles and wondering why I was called into work, I heard something. A little trickle of laughter. It bounced and flitted around the mostly empty restaurant, making way for a whole gale of laughter. And that’s when I noticed it: everyone sitting around the bar- strangers, newcomers, regulars – were engaged in conversation with one another. They sat, swapping stories by candlelight, as if they had all come in together. An overhwhelming feeling of camaraderie settled on the bar, as the conversation grew to welcome two new members that had just stumbled in. In a city filled with loners, here was a group that stretched and reshaped in order to include everyone that came near. I felt myself smile as I walked over to join in.  A pizza was ordered, a round of drinks poured, and a happy little community was formed. Sure, it was temporary. We’d all leave soon and go back to not making eye contact with passersby on the street, but that was for later. And, really, it’s moments like these that make the rest of the time seem totally worth it.

The New Love of My Life

I have some serious commitment issues. Something about the idea of choosing something and sticking to it makes my blood run cold. Arctic Circle in a bathing suit cold.  I start seeing the negatives that were always there, hidden by the rosy glow of indecision. And things I’m afraid of losing? Those I’ll commit to like a drug addiction…until I have them. Let’s just call me exceptionally fickle.

Until about a week ago. I was, once again, put in a position of commitment. I’ve just recently gotten more freedom than I’ve ever had: out of college, single, subletting a different apartment every month, not tied down by a job…really, I don’t think it gets any freer.

So, when I was given the option of committing, I knew part of me was going to protest. My brain was going to argue that I should enjoy freedom longer, not get stuck so that I wouldn’t want to leave should I be offered a great, long-term acting gig outside of the city. I should stay solo. But the other half of me knew this was too good to not commit to: beautiful,  great company, and with everything I am looking for…

That’s right, I am sitting at my own desk right now, surrounded by my own things in my new apartment. And I love it. I will forcefully suggest that anyone else who might think moving into a 5th floor walk up without movers sounds like a good idea get their head checked, but after one absolutely exhausting day, I am settled in and completely overjoyed to have somewhere to call home, with roommates I am actually friends with, in an apartment we all chose together. I might be in love with this place. Head over heels in love.

So, maybe I should reevaluate my opinions on commitment. Rethink my rather negative stance on relationships, get a dog, plan something further into the future than two weeks…or maybe I should just take baby steps.